Manga and Whimsicality

From it’s first page, Akira is an intriguing, action-packed graphic novel that immediately draws the eye.  The very first panel drops a bomb, literally, and along with it, pulls the reader to want to read on.  For the first few pages, too, stunning coloring works alongside the plot and dialogue, attracting the reader visually just as much as with the story.  In the edition we read, however, the color ceases within only a few pages, leaving the previously vibrant world of Akira in shades of black and white.  For me, the withdrawal of color hurts the book, and unfortunately, the art styles that follow only make it less appealing.

The style is whimsical and cartoonish, the epitome of comic.  This, combined with the loud lettering of sound effects, makes for an overall appearance that is unrealistic, lacking seriousness.  After the first few pages, in which there was clear commentary on the extremely serious events surrounding the dropping of atomic bombs in Japan, this style doesn’t seem to make sense, and appears to drop the opportunity to make a clear statement.  Of course, perhaps a commentary was not meant, in which case the seemingly sudden changes in tone, mood, and art styles would be all but necessary to prevent the rest of the novel from being dark and serious, with a focus on those historical events.  If this is the case, however, it seems like it would be better to merely provide a different basis for the setting in which the story takes place; certainly a devastating bomb would not be required to bring about a kind of world war that would create the setting for Akira.  Overall, the story itself is certainly interesting, and the comic book is well-written, and clearly well-loved by many people.  For me, however, the unrealistic tone of the novel as a whole makes the story uninteresting, and unrelatable; therefore lacking the main requirements of a story to draw my attention.  Nevertheless, I was pleased to read Akira, as I have never before explored anything in the genre of manga, and certainly it is always better to widen my reading experience within different graphic novel genres.

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